Investigation begins, as another San Diegan alleges shakedown by Tijuana police
Another local man says he was shaken down by Mexican police, as Tijuana officials announced an investigation into the alleged incidents.
Since January, 69-year-old Lupe Adame has been driving his truck back and forth from Escondido to Tijuana to help his friend renovate a home. On a Wednesday night in mid-June, he was returning from Tijuana, blocks from driving up to the line to cross the border, when he saw the police lights.
“Police car got over on my driver side and he said, ‘Pull over!’ … Nowhere to stop, so I stopped in the middle of the road,” said Adame.
Adame says a heavyset officer in his 40s went to his door and told him he was being stopped because he had tinted windows.
“And then I heard the back of my pickup open … tailgate drop down … I looked and my stuff was gone! So angry,” said Adame.
Adame says a second officer had grabbed all his tools — worth nearly $500 — and placed them the police car’s back seat. A stunned Adame says they patted him down and emptied his pockets, including his wallet.
“When I looked at my wallet, I realized that this guy took my money. I said, ‘You just robbed me.’ He said, ‘Shut up!'” said Adame.
More than $200 in cash had disappeared. He says the officer then let him go and told him to not come back. At the border crossing, he reported the incident to a US Customs and Border Protection officer.
“She says, ‘You know what, you’re the third person it happened to in my lane, including someone who was robbed of $350,'” said Adame.
On Thursday, ABC 10News reported on a similar account from Tom, a San Diego retiree who says he was also shaken down several weeks ago by Mexican officers, officers who explained their COVID-related motive.
“They’re just going to pull over Americans and take whatever money they have because the people in Tijuana are hurting really bad because the border is closed,” said Tom, who asked us not use his real name.
Since March, non-essential travel has been banned by both governments to limited coronavirus infections.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the city of Tijuana called any shakedown, “an evil act,” while announcing they will investigate “to apply the corresponding sanctions.”
The State Department tells 10News they are monitoring the situation, but declined further comment on any investigation.
What To Do If You’re Stopped By The Police
Although not every policeman is corrupt around here, there are definitely many bad apples in the group.
People! Do not feed these thieves, you only make it worse for yourself and for everyone else. If nobody gives them money, they will stop asking.
If you are stopped, and you have actually made a boo boo, ask for a ticket and go down to the police station later on or the next day, or even the next week, and pay it. They will take your driver’s license to insure that you show up, and that’s OK. They do not want your license, and there is nothing they can do with it. You will get it back.
If you have not broken any law, just keep asking for a ticket. “Dar may un teeket por favor”. Be polite but be firm.
If they threaten you or get nasty, write down their name, or if they are not wearing their name badge, (mandatory, but still it’s common for them to stick it in their pocket), then haul out your phone and take their picture. That’s like holding a mirror up to a vampire, and they will jump in their car and scurry away like cockroaches when you turn on the light. They will let you go with some face saving mumble like, “just a warning this time”.
It’s extremely rare for them to write a ticket, and for sure they will not cite you when you haven’t done anything wrong. And, if you have broken a law, the ticket is ridiculously small. Man up and go down and pay it, don’t take the cowardly/lazy way out and throw money at the officer.
OK, once more now, altogether, “dar may un teeket”
This police extortion would stop in a week if everyone would grow a back bone and stand up to them. If it doesn’t stop, then it’s your own fault.
UPDATE: We heard that the police are now using the new “tinted windows law” to shake down foreigners. It is in fact illegal to have your windows tinted if they are dark enough that you can’t see inside of the vehicle. The law says that the officer should give you a chance to remove the film of the windows right then and there and you will not get a ticket, if you get the ticket you will have to remove it to get your license back anyway. If it’s too dark get rid of it! Better to comply with the law than to support corruption every week.,